The Right Place For Him

They’ll be a lot of nervous people watching the John Deere Classic tomorrow. Most of those will be fans of Canadian PGA Tour Rookie Matt McQuillan who has not only made his second PGA Tour cut but is banging elbows on the top of the leaderboard.

Yes, there is plenty at stake for the 30 year-old on Sunday. It is unlikely that he can gain the ten strokes necessary to catch the leader but he has a lot to play for. He needs the cash to help his position on the money list, pay the bills, and if he should happen to finish in the top 5 he could find himself playing in The Open Championship next week.

I’m excited for Matt but I fall short of nervous and I’ll tell you why.

I’ve known Matt and his family for more than 20 years. In that time I have been fortunate to have a front row seat as his golf talent developed.

I’ve fixed his clubs, played lots of rounds of golf with him and on our honeymoon my wife and I even watched him play in an Ontario Junior Championship.

I’ve caddied for him in everything from City Championships, to Canadian Amateurs, to Canadian Open qualifiers.

I still remember the day he shot 64 for the first time and came flying into the golf store I co-owned at the time, beaming with his scorecard in hand. He was just 14.

Better yet I recall him telling me that very year that he wanted to play on the PGA Tour some day.

He made that happen last December and I am not ashamed to tell you I shed a few tears as I stood on the edge of the final green at PGA Tour School and watched that become a reality.

So yes my pulse will race a bit more tomorrow as I monitor Matt’s results at the John Deere. I hope for the best but I don’t look at this week as confirmation that he deserves to be on the PGA Tour. I knew long ago that his talents were special.

I’m just glad that a lot more people finally believe that as well.

Whether you miss 10 cuts in a row or make every weekend on the PGA Tour, those who earn their way there deserve our respect as golfers all the time.

On the PGA Tour it can just take one week to change a life forever. This just might be that week for Matt McQuillan.

But if it isn’t I truly believe there will be more to come for the talented young Canadian I am glad to call a friend.